Monday, May 16, 2011

I Need Other People

I need other people in my life.

I know there are those who are called to be hermits. But even they are not "alone," if they offer their solitude for the salvation of the world. But that is a special and mystical kind of life.

I need other people, in the most ordinary, human sense of the term. I am a weak and afflicted man, constantly in need of being reminded that I am loved, but more importantly, constantly in need of others to remind me of my vocation to love. I am naturally introspective and easily wrapped up in myself. It is not a place where I want to be, but I don't know how to get out by myself.

The way to get beyond myself is love. And the invitation to love, for me, usually comes from other people. I pray to God and I try to love God, but it is too easy for me to forget about God--even while praying--and get wrapped up in some imaginary "God" that is the product of my own circular thinking. How easily prayer can become a monologue and a worrying session. Of course, I know God is there; He accepts anything that we even try to give Him and lovingly turns it toward the good. Still, if life was just me by myself with my prayers, I would be a sad and lonely and atrophied person.

Throughout the day, the summons to love comes from other people. I can't do this thing called "life" by myself. I don't think I could even keep my sanity, much less attain my destiny. These other people are first and above all my wife and family, but also everyone who has been given to me in my circumstances--people who depend on me, and on whom I depend. They turn me "outwards" with all of that intensity and perceptiveness of my personality. And so I am focused on affirming and helping others instead of analyzing and devouring myself.

It is also a tremendous blessing to be able to write in a context in which I know that someone is going to read my words. Writing could easily degenerate into a self-absorbed exercise were it not for the desire to communicate, and the realization--thanks to this medium--that communication will in fact be achieved, and that the words written here will be found useful by others.

Many complex motivations, of course, arise in relationships with other people--not the least of which are vanity and self-affirmation. But when relationships and communication strive outward, for truth, goodness, and beauty, they become the path for the freedom and transcendence of the person. Whether face to face or in writing, they embody the giving and receiving of love that is the mystery of God's own life and the means by which He draws us to Himself.